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T.J.’s Takes: Potential shown in sloppy blowout

T.J.’s Takes feature the five key thoughts from Basketball Recruiting Analyst T.J. Walker. The first thought will always be instant analysis on the win or loss and the last will be looking ahead to the next game.

1. The Win: Wow. I expected Kentucky to win but I didn’t expect it to go down like that. The Cats showcased sloppy play throughout the game but I did not anticipate so many impressive stretches. You can tell this team hasn’t put in much defensive work, but natural talents shined throughout the night. Ashton Hagans is a thief. UK did a decent job protecting the rim, and while I have a few issues defensively you can tell they aren’t too terrible far off. The talent is just ridiculous. UK didn’t play its best game, even for August standards, and it beat the Bahamanian national team with ease. Every team they will play the rest of this vacation will be better, but the Bahamas’ team would be a top 80 college basketball team and the Cats destroyed them in their first ever game together. The majority of this Bahamas’ team has been playing together all summer and a group of those players even longer.

2. Sophomore Nick F’ing Richards: Holy. Smokes. Drew Franklin has been talking about Richards all spring and summer and the dude came out with a vengeance. I’ve been tough on Sophomore Nick Richards mainly because the way his freshman season ended, but I’ve never doubted his potential, although admittedly I don’t think he becomes a great college player until next season (if he sticks around). I hope I’m wrong. I find myself one point in the hole against Nick and Drew. Richards was a stud tonight, 19 points and only one missed shot. It’s clear that confidence is a major player for Richards. He has the tools to be a great big, but it appears he has to see a few shots go in before he starts believing in himself. He started off hot, so we’ll have to see if he can overcome a slow start, but tonight was impressive. UK doesn’t need Richards to be great, but the Cats have to have three reliable bigs on the season. If Richards can be one of those three it means you’re getting a rim protector in the process, which is huge defensively (he didn’t have a block tonight but you could tell the Bahamas’ national team kept an eye on Richards) ((I misread the box score and he did have a couple blocks, apologies folks)).

3. Reid Travis: It wasn’t the game he was looking for offensively but I was impressed with his overall performance and you could tell he’s been through this a time or two. He couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end. If he were a freshman you’d be talking about jitters, but he was just off. No way aroudn it. He missed a dunk, never looked comfortable in the paint with the ball and lost his touch. He rarely seemed in control with the ball in his hands and it was just a bad offensively night for the Stanford grad-transfer. But the reason you can tell he’s a senior is the way he didn’t let it impact other areas of his game. He was by far the best player on the glass all night and at the end of the day that’s what UK needs more than anything in regards to Travis. I loved that Travis established his dominance despite stinking on the offensive end, but that’s the sign of a special player that will constantly help the team.

4. Freshmen: I loved Tyler Herro’s confidence. My initial thoughts on his performance were that he’s always going to take the open shot and that there will be a few games that UK wins in which he plays a huge role. I don’t think he’s UK’s best scorer or UK’s best player, but when he gets going he will put up huge numbers. Ashton Hagans will be a fan favorite when it’s all said and done. He’s an elite defender and he’s just getting started offensively. His speed is special. Remember, Hagans should just be heading into his senior year of high school. Keldon Johnson may be UK’s most important player. He’s going to be asked to do it all for UK and his consistency will be a must for the Cats. He’s good offensively, important defensively and his energy will be a rallying cry for UK at times this year.

5. Moving Forward: In my opinion UK did what it had to do against its easiest opponent of the week. The Bahamas’ national team didn’t look overly interest for all forty minutes, but the Cats finished the game on a 41 to 18 run. 41-18. UK had surrender a 7-0 run before waking up and dominating. That showed this team can kick it into high gear. That’s an impressive sign for a group that’s never played a game together. Tomorrow and Saturday will be much tougher games. UK should cruise on Sunday, but we’ll learn a lot more about this team over the next two games. It was a positive start but the Cats were never truly punched in the mouth. I’m guessing that happens in the next two games and I can’t wait to see how Kentucky responds. It’s good to be watching UK basketball again.


Article written by TJ Walker

43 Comments for T.J.’s Takes: Potential shown in sloppy blowout

  1. Mathlete
    9:53 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

    Richards swatted one shot into the Bahamian bench toward the end of the game, didn’t he?

  2. Robkycats54
    9:53 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

    Hagans was really good on defense, but Keldon johnson may be the most over sold player we have had in a long time hopefully I’m wrong & this was just a first game thing but I’m not sold on him at all, And Baker we need him this team is still poor from outside, Knox & SGA would out shoot this whole team but we have 2 months and sum change to fix this up… I hope Baker is healthy and will get a chance to play because teams will load up on us/play zone & dare us to make shot, we need better shooting other than that we will be fine come November…..

    • uk27ncaa
      10:00 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

      We need a guy who hasn’t logged 1 min in a game. Your going off of what SGA said about him in an interview. Calm down its 1 game.

    • shelby
      10:01 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

      Robkycats54: making any judgement about ANY player at this point is a bad decision. Keldon is a freshman who has had very little practice. He just might turn out to be great

    • CombatMedic_98
      10:05 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

      Uhhhh not sure what game u were watching but, Johnson was the most aggressive guy on the court for Off & Def! He is the most athletic and versatile player ON THE TEAM…PERIOD. This is just game 1…

    • Mathlete
      10:13 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

      @Robby – It’s one game. In August. Against a team of grown men. Cool your jets

    • Luether
      12:26 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      2 for 20 from 3 doesn’t cut it…

    • 4everUKblue
      7:24 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      You guys do know this was AUGUST 8TH RIGHT? And Dakich was talking about how smart Kentucky fans are…

    • recliner coach
      9:03 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      To me, seemed like Johnson was trying too hard, like he had something to prove. When he gets comfortable and buys in to the team concept, he will shine.

  3. uk27ncaa
    9:54 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

    TJ, didn’t Richards have a block? I thought he sent one into the Bahamas bench in the second half.

  4. shelby
    10:05 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

    I like my team; stay healthy and we can be great by March. I think we’ll be a much better shooting team than we showed tonight. I just hope Cal doesn’t have pj on the perimeter too much trying to show the nba he can shoot; the kid is a beast in the paint, the 3 point shot should be a rarity for him.

  5. TJ Walker
    10:05 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

    Yes he did. Two actually. Apologies.

    • Robkycats54
      10:19 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

      @Shelby I’m hoping I’m wrong about tonight I said that in my response to the review, I bleed Kentucky blue, but u cant tell me this guy wasnt over hyped this summer & what I seen with my eyes tonight tells me different, this guy is supposed to be the second coming of MkG, Stop that now!! he got beat off the dribble constantly & also @Combat just because your aggressive doesn’t mean any thing this guy shot 3-15 & had 7 turnovers most on the team…. now Again I hope I am wrong because I wont this guy Keldon to succeed but what I saw was a honest opinion freshman or not… Tyler’s a freshman as well rated lower by recruiting analyst he played really good tonight…..

    • uk27ncaa
      10:31 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

      Why even watch UK games if it makes u this miserable?

    • timbo
      5:04 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      It’s what he seen,guys…

    • KYcats11
      8:57 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      Lol, timbo.

    • KayutsBy90
      12:06 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      @Robky I know box scores can be hard to read even for someone thats been watching the cats since ’96 but the TOT 7 was total rebounds, not turnovers. He only had 1 on those… Let’s wait until november to judge the kid, ya know the same time of year that we got to see MKG actually play.

  6. binarysolo
    10:12 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink



  7. Aar
    10:17 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

    Glad to be watching live UK basketball in August!

    Travis looked like a guy who is accustomed to being fed a certain way but was just not getting it. Made good decisions by passing out of doubles early. Started forcing the issue late. Loved his work on the glass! Looking forward to him getting in rhythm with his teammates.

    Really, really, really glad Washington returned. He looked like he’s ready for the next level in spurts. He’ll be ready in November – just like many other members of the team.

    Surprised at Herro’s D. It’s currently more effort than skill but defensive effort earns minutes from Cal.

    Look at Green’s +/- stat! It reflects his hustle and communication!

    Richards – Wow! Keep it going big fella. Keep it goin’ we need more of that good stuff.

    Montgomery – quietly efficient despite the sloppy game.

    Looking forward to the mid-season versions of Johnson and Hagans – they’re dawgs! Quickley’s better than the practice reports suggested.

    I like the pieces – in spurts. It’s definitely pre-season. Looking forward to better team play.

    Would like to see Baker. He looked more happy and engaged than at any time last season.

    Thank the world for bringing back basketball shorts! Real men have knees.

  8. Robkycats54
    10:44 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

    @ncaa now we can’t give a honest opinion, lol I watch all kentucky games since 96, good or bad i will always watch my cats and say how I feel maybe u need to look yourself in the mirror & be more honest with yourself, this is my opinion, I didn’t say…. kick him off the team, bench him, or I hope he dies, I just gave an opinion on him, I expected more from our top recruit & most nba projects to be a lottery pick & honestly I didn’t see it, & again for the last time I hope I’m wrong, when he does well I will praise him if otherwise I may say what we all saw tonight, Did I make this up??? @Ncaa

    • Midnight Cowboy
      11:14 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

      You can have any opinion you want, but when you attach the “hopefully I’m wrong” clause to it, it calls to question how strong you actually feel about your opinion.

    • timbo
      5:08 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      Can we get an official to check for record sentence length and/or number of commas without/in place of periods?

  9. JMFATZ47
    11:22 pm August 8, 2018 Permalink

    Terrible assessments…..I will never common on here again. “ didn’t think Richards would be good this year?” Really? What an idiot early assessment

    • Luether
      12:28 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      A bit harsh, don’t you think…

    • timbo
      5:09 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      Well, at least we will only hear from him abnormally. He will never common on here again.

  10. blueballs80
    12:33 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

    Everyone needs to calm down. It’s just one game. Once the regular season starts, lets start judging away!

  11. You Can Call Me Cal
    1:49 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

    Loved what I saw from Hagans. Already getting annoyed by this line “Remember, Hagans should just be heading into his senior year of high school.”

    • TBW3011
      7:15 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      Especially when it’s incorrect 90% of the time. Most kids who reclassify are moving back to the class they should have been in originally.

    • KentuckyT
      8:07 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      Hagans was born a month before Kevin Knox. This narrative is so dumb.

  12. CoachCat
    3:23 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

    For a team in August. You know. When Football is king. So you’ll have to excuse me when I laugh at any comment that criticizes any of these kids. I will say this. Every player we have has potential to live up to their hype. So kick back and relax. It’s gonna be a good season.

  13. Papaw
    7:09 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

    It’s comical to read all the “expert” opinions here. All of them either dooming us to mere average at best, or lofting us to 40-0, based on the very first exhibition game. March is what matters

  14. michaelb
    7:43 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

    You can see through the mistakes & bad shots that this team wants to do good, every individual that played hustled hard . Looks like this team can trap I’ll be anxious to see that this year to .

  15. TheMaxCat
    8:19 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

    To steal a line from a great song….. “It’s just a matter of time”. Vets (Green, Washington, Richards and Travis played like they’ve been there/done that. The frosh will be inconsistent the first half of the year but because they can lean on the vets their learning curve will be accelerated. Watch they go and watch them grow and this will be a fun ride.

  16. silverado
    8:38 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

    Would somebody please call in a proofreader?!?

    • cornay
      9:00 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      Ha! Hilarious. I was just getting ready to ask T.J. if he reads his pieces before he posts them. I think we know the answer to that one. Or, maybe he does, and he’s just super awful at grammar. Either way, KSR, a proofreader definitely would not hurt. Maybe just hire an English major for an internship, if the budget’s too tight. Either way, T.J., come on. Tighten it up, dude.

    • CombatMedic_98
      9:26 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

      You are “corn-ay” for commenting on grammar

  17. bigblue2284
    9:08 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

    I loved the speed they opened the game with, of course being August it’s hard to maintain. I thought Washington looked much better both in speed and shape. Hagans needs to be the starting PG I love the speed he plays with and the defense he brings. What I hate is again the shooting looks awful, I understand it’s August but shooting looks like an issue.

  18. AtlKatFan
    11:38 am August 9, 2018 Permalink

    Loved the BBall fix!! Best part was Cal in stands and the cornball announcer!

  19. natedaddy
    12:46 pm August 9, 2018 Permalink

    It’s one exhibition in the middle of summer, so taking everything with a grain of salt. Played sloppy as a team. Came away most impressed with Richards. If his hands work this season like they did last night, he’s easily our best player. Also impressed with Herro. He never looked like he was ever out of control, unlike Hagans and Quickley. Not impressed with our guard play. Too many bad shots and dives to the basket in which they got too far and panicked. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more missed layups and dunks. And only 2 made threes. This Bahamas must be absolutely terrible, cause our defense was bad too and we still beat them by 20.

    • natedaddy
      12:48 pm August 9, 2018 Permalink

      I’ll add that it will be fun to watch this team grow. They will get better. I still like this team much better than last years.

  20. Bluebloodtoo
    12:56 pm August 9, 2018 Permalink

    Definitely agree with the potential of this team. Gonna be an exciting ( and sometimes frustrating) season this year! Looking forward to watching all these guys grow throughout the year!